Monday, March 18, 2013

Captain Dobbsie

Captain Dobbsie was better known as Hugh Barrett Dobbs.  He was originally hired as a fitness instructor by KPO-AM to do an early morning exercise program. Previously he'd sold player pianos for a living. The gig morphed into a radio show called the “Ship of Joy” program. This was syndicated on the Pacific Coast network which also included KFI, KGW, KOMO, KHQ and KSL. The show was schmaltz and cheesy, and trite and people loved it. Captain Dobbsie called his listeners shipmates, and happytimers and to himself in third person as Captain Doobsie or as skipper. Try to imagine if Richard Simmons was a pirate and had a radio show. It was like that. More here.

The program began in 1926, originally sponsored by Del Monte Coffee, as an imitation of the Maxwellhouse Show Boat program. The Ship of Joy program ran 8:00 - 9:00 AM and was popular on the West Coast. It became sponsored by Shell Motor Oil and eventually changed it's name to Shell Happytime. The Walt Roesner orchestra played, poetry was read, exercises performed and smiling contests held. They even rigged up a remote broadcast ship-to-shore in 1933 from the cruise ship Malolo en route to Honolulu.

Dobbsie wrote a book about the program complete with naff poetry in 1931. In 1932 he picked up a new orchestra led by Horace Heidt, and theAlemite Brigadeers. the new sponsor was Alemite Motor Oil. Horace Heidt's later went on to his own schmaltzy radio career.. The Ship of Joy program continued until 1935 at which point it's listed as a sustaining NBC program without a sponsor by Forum magazine. The Ship of Joy sailed for 9 years. He died in 1944 after a 3-year stint on KJR-AM in Seattle. He was only 50 years old. More here.